Washington D.C.--(Jan. 29, 2008) The first exhibition to explore photographs made from paper negatives — calotypes — in Great Britain in the 1840s and 1850s, "Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840–1860," will be on view February 3–May 4 in the West Building photography galleries at the National Gallery of Art.
The exhibition features 120 calotypes, many of which have never before been exhibited or published in the United States, made by about 40 artists. Included are works by such masters as the process's inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877), Roger Fenton (1819–1869), David Octavius Hill (1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (1821–1848), and dozens of previously unknown photographers. The calotype process introduced the ability to make multiple copies of a photograph, as compared to its initial competition, the one-of-a-kind daguerreotype.
"This exhibition entirely revises our understanding of the art of early photography," says Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "Before now, history has told us that Talbot's process, the calotype, as rendered obsolete in 1851 when a sharper method of making negatives — collodion on glass — was invented. But this exhibition vividly and eloquently demonstrates that many people continued to use the calotype because they preferred its aesthetic qualities."
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. The exhibition travels to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, May 26–September 14.
Benjamin Brecknell Turner, English (1815–1894), "Anstey's Cove, Torquay,” 1861, albumen silver print, Lawrence and Sybil Hite. The exhibition is presented in four parts: "The Formative Years, 1839–1851, " which covers the early, experimental period just after Talbot made his process available to the world; "The Calotype Finds Its Place " reveals that the calotype flourished in Great Britain following the large display of photography at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851; "Echoes of the Grand Tour" presents photographs taken in France, Spain, Italy, and Greece by intrepid tourists who wanted to record their travels, and "Under an Indian Sky" offers images of the exotic Nineteenth Century British colonies of India and Burma.
On Sunday, February 3, at 2 pm in the East Building Auditorium, Sarah Greenough will present the lecture, "Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840–1860."
Gallery tours of the exhibition are scheduled for March 24, 25, and 27; and April 28, 29, and 30. Tours will meet at 2 pm in the West Building Rotunda.
The National Gallery of Art is on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. For information, www.nga.gov or 202-737-4215.